Mercedes Metris Worker is tough on the outside, smarter underneath

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The Mercedes Metris Worker is stripped back, but doesn't skimp on creature comforts

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Semi-autonomous driver assist features are working their way down into reasonably priced passenger cars and commercial vehicles aren't missing out, either. Vans like the new Mercedes Metris Worker might look like the same slab-sided boxes on wheels as their pared-back predecessors, but under the skin they're smarter propositions, packing in clever driver assist technology to make life on the road that little bit more comfortable.

Just like the ever-expanding range of Mercedes passenger cars, the Metris Worker is kitted out with the latest in driver assistance technology. As well as a load-adaptive stability control system, hill-start assist and crosswind assist are both standard. We've seen crosswind assistance systems before, but the benefits are likely to be far more valuable to drivers wrestling a bulky box on wheels than they are on an S-Class.

Also useful on commercial vehicles, which often come without side windows, are blind spot warning, lane keeping assist and reversing cameras, all of which are options on the order form.

It's not just driver assistance systems where Mercedes has tried to smarten the Metris up. The van's 108 hp (81 kW) turbo four-cylinder engine has been tuned for efficiency, with a claimed inner-city fuel use figure of 21 mpg (11 l/100 km) and 24 mpg (9.8 l/100 km) on the highway. Modern tradies aren't even expected to exercise their left legs anymore, with a seven-speed automatic coming as standard.

In Metris Worker Cargo guise the 186 cu.ft load bay can carry up to 2500 lb (1134 kg), 1130 (513 kg) more than the slightly smaller Ford Transit Connect can manage. It'll also tow 5000 lb (2268 kg). Meanwhile, the Metris Worker Passenger is fitted out with seven seats, and aimed at limousine or airport shuttle firms.

To make life easier for sign writers, the Worker Cargo is only available in white. Steel wheels are standard, as is a metal cargo floor, although the load bay can be factory fitted with wooden flooring, shelving or drawers as a part of the Mercedes MasterUpfitters program.

There are a few more choices available on the Worker Passenger, which is available in white, silver or black. If it's ultimate luxury you're chasing, there's even an option for body colored bumpers, although we'd save the money and put it towards the optional leatherette seats. After all, it's easier to clean than cloth, a key consideration in the airport shuttle world.

Pricing for the Metris Worker starts at US$25,995, making it the cheapest vehicle with a three-pointed star on the bonnet. The van will be on sale by the end of the year.

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